Yesterday morning I was hanging laundry on the line when I first started hearing voices.
Well, “a voice,” really. A male voice, speaking Spanish in a formal style, like he was reading the news. I assumed it was coming from the construction site near our home. Maybe the workers were catching up on world events while driving their hammers.
The voice grew louder and louder, and I became irritated. Now I could tell it was coming from a vehicle, slowly creeping up our street. Why on Earth would someone need to listen to the news on their radio SO LOUDLY with the windows down?
But then I started listening, and realized it wasn’t a newscast at all. It was an announcement from the local utilities company.
“All utility services will be disrupted in this neighborhood on Wednesday, November 11 from 8 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon.”
So I guess when you live somewhere without so much as a local newspaper, you spread the news by rolling up and down the streets, playing announcements on a loop.
I had flashbacks to my days working as a risk communicator in public health. We spent a lot of time planning for the worst. What if there were an outbreak or some other public health emergency, like a bioterrorism attack? My job would be to get word out about how to stay safe, where the shelters were located, and how to find help. Sure, media outlets and social media seemed the logical place to start – but what if no one had access to power? To internet?
I guess we would’ve rolled our trucks up and down the streets, shouting messages like Costa Rican town criers.
I also spent a lot of time in that job trying to convince people to have “ready kits,” or supply bags in case of emergency. But I don’t always practice what I preach. So today I took a quick trip to the grocery to stock up on the essentials, like water (when the power goes out our water does too), toilet paper, and dental floss. I mean, have you ever had food stuck between your teeth and you pull on the dental floss only to find an inch of floss left? That’s a disaster I must avoid.
So it looks like tomorrow I’ll be taking the day off. From what I’ve heard this happens about once a month or so, when the electric company cuts services to the whole town to work on the power grid. I assume the stores close, unable to run the registers. But the kids still have school. Life still goes on in the jungle.
Don’t mind if I do. We have our first visitor flying in from the states today (Hi Andy!) so it looks like tomorrow we’ll have every excuse to hang out and catch up. I just hope he doesn’t need electricity. Or a shower. Or anything modern like that. Welcome to the Pura Vida life!